Wednesday, October 27

Autumn letter to Mum...

(I'm not going for any writing awards here)

It's getting really cold outside now, you'd definitely be wearing your pink wool coat in this weather. Dad rings and says your grave looks sad and barren without a headstone or any plants to keep it company. It's too soon to put a stone over your remains, and your death is too raw to work out what we'd write on it.

In a few weeks it'll be a whole year since you made that phone call to tell me about the scan. Your voice was so tiny on the phone, and I melted into a pool on the living room floor after you'd rung off. Blind panic gave way to an odd kind of autopilot, and somehow time passed. That night I woke up at 2am screaming 'I don't want my mum to die', and managed to calm myself down by convincing myself that you wouldn't. If I'd let myself think for a moment that you would I would have been useless to you.

Do you remember how I took the next day off work and came straight back to Norfolk to see you? You looked tiny. Shrunken, and yellowing. After you'd gone for a sleep I broke down in the living room and retched all over the carpet, I was terrified that you'd leave me, the world without you in it seemed sick and horrific.

I lost your voice for a while, Mum. White hot fear set in for a few days until I found it again. I got it back by remembering the time I took you to the ballet for your birthday, and how you'd bought chocolates because 'everybody has to have chocolates at the ballet'. I miss your sense of humour so much. On days like today I would give anything to hear you speak again.

I hardly ever say the word 'Mum' anymore. Sometimes I say it to myself, when there's nobody around, just to feel the sensation of the word on my lips. But it's forced, not like the 'Muu-uuuum' I uttered as a teenager, or the 'Mummy' I repeated as I stroked your hair in your final hours. I've lost you, and the word, it seems.

Nobody warns you about the loneliness. It's terribly lonely without you, Mum. In the past, whenever life threw shit at me I could always somehow think my way back to you, and feel safe again. In the picture by my bed you are holding me as a baby. It's a snapshot, so neither of us is posed. I'm gazing dreamily at the camera, and you are holding me and watching me, the weight of motherly responsibility very clearly on your shoulders. Now it's much harder to find a way out of the darkness without you acting as my spine. I knew this would happen. As I watched you fight for your final few breaths I wanted to grab your body so that you could take me with you. I didn't want you to be alone. I didn't want to be alone.

I'm so grateful for the perspective that your death has given me, your final gift to me; you made me 'grow up'. You'd be so proud of the way I handle life's trivial ups and downs now. But I'm scared of this winter, and the memories it might throw up. I almost feel like I should stock an arsenal of happy memories to see me through it.

I'll write again Mum. Sorry it took me so long to write this one. I love you.

Gemmie-Lou xx

P.S. I need to buy a cardigan. The only warm cardie I have is the one you bought me for Christmas two years ago but wearing it makes me sad. I think about how you'd tease me mercilessly over this and I giggle through my sobs. I pine for you and celebrate you in equal measure. I think you'd be okay with this.

Felt this needed a photo. Don't want to forget your face as well as your voice!

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